Timber cladding provides a highly attractive and durable external finish which is renewable, reusable, biodegradable and contains minimal embodied energy.
Western redcedar is among the most popular softwoods used today. Aside from its relatively knot-free, ‘clean’ appearance, this softwood has a natural resistance to decay and moisture absorption, meaning it can typically be installed without treatment. It’s also the most stable of the softwoods, subject to little movement when installed. Due to its low resin content it can be readily stained or painted. One downside is that it has a comparatively low density, which means it can be dented if knocked. It is imported from Canada and sometimes America, but increasingly grown here too (the durability can be a little lower than that of imported).
The same is true of Douglas fir, which is another good softwood, also grown locally and sourced from Canada and the USA. UK grown Douglas fir may require a protective coating to improve durability.
Scottish and Scandinavian larch is denser than western redcedar, making it more resilient to knocks but can require pre-drilling before installation with screws or nails. It’s available in varying grades — the higher (quality) grades tend to contain fewer knots, being suitable for machined profiling, with lower grade sawn larch a cheaper option. Larch can however lose resin once installed, making it unsuitable with some finishes.